Canada ponders drop in visits |

Canada ponders drop in visits

Allen Best

WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler and other Canadian resorts are awaiting a report that hopes to explain why fewer Americans have been visiting.In Whistler, visits from Washington state were down 17 percent during the summer and those from California were down 38 percent. Banff and Lake Louise were also reported to be “challenged” by the all-important U.S. market.What’s going on? Doubled gasoline prices? The strengthening Canadian dollar that has made Whistler vacations 30 percent more expensive? All of these ideas and more are being examined.Making Whistlerites even more nervous is the prospect of new U.S rules requiring passports of all citizens returning from Canada. The rule goes into effect in 2007. The Canadian government hopes that an alternative documentation may be satisfactory to the U.S. to establish identity and citizenship.Real estate frenzy slowsLAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Real estate prices in the various resort communities in the Lake Tahoe have soared up 30 percent annually. This summer that pace has slowed. “It’s not the feeding frenzy it (was),” one real estate agent, Carol Fromson, told Truckee’s Sierra Sun. There, home prices had appreciated 25 percent to 30 percent, leaving few homes at less than $500,000.In South Lake Tahoe, where the Heavenly ski area is located, the average selling price rose only 5 percent this summer after a year in which prices lofted from $355,000 to an average of $425,000, reports the Tahoe Daily Tribune.Enrollments decline in the WestLAKE TAHOE, Calif. – For several years now, the story has been much the same in the ski towns and resort valleys of the West. Despite rapid population growth, school enrollments have generally been flat or declining.More of the same is being reported at Lake Tahoe, where the school district reported 4,200 students this fall, 188 less than last year. The school district superintendent, Dennis Williams, reported the slide in enrollment has been occurring for seven or eight years. “It is more extreme than we’ve been anticipating,” he told the Tahoe World.What’s going on? Williams surmises that at least partly it’s a matter of fewer younger families moving into the area or staying in the area because of rising housing costs. That’s been the conclusion in other mountain valleys of the West.Vail, Colorado

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